It’s funny what people see and don’t see when they look in a mirror. Take guys. A guy can have a beer belly that hangs halfway to his knees, be bald except for seven hairs which he wraps around trying to cover his whole head, nose hairs coming out of his nostrils until it looks like he has a moustache, and eyebrows that look like a couple of tarantulas fighting, but when he stands naked in front of a mirror and flexes his biceps he sees Matthew McConaughey looking back at him. And that’s if he’s an average guy. If he’s conceited, he sees Matthew McConaughey’s head on Arnold Schwarzenegger’s body when it was in its prime. “Not bad. Not bad.” he’ll say and turn around to get a good view of his back. In his mind his carpet of back hair, that makes him look like he hasn’t fully evolved, will disappear. “I still got it,” he’ll say, even if he’s never had it. Even if he wouldn’t know what It was if It bit him in his double-wide trailer behind. That’s just the way guys are. Reality is more of a moldable concept than a solid ideal.
Women are different, but just as detached from reality. A woman gets out of bed in the morning and does her best not to look at the mirror. “Look away. I’m hideous,” she’ll say as if she were the Elephant Man. If she does accidentally glance at the mirror, she sees a giant slug that has just crawled out of the primordial slime. I’ve known women who get up in the morning and immediately dash into the bathroom to do their hair and put on makeup before they let anyone see them. They move so quickly you wouldn’t even know they had left their bed if it wasn’t for the slime trail leading into the bathroom.
It’s said that “women dress for other women”, and I think it’s true. My wife doesn’t care if I see her in the morning without makeup and her hair messed. She’ll sit down for breakfast in her jammies looking like she just got out of bed, which she did. It doesn’t bother me either after all these years, but you would think she’d want to look a little more presentable when she’s sitting across from Matthew McConaughhey.
Women are under more pressure to look good than men. They are constantly presented with models who are seven feet tall and weigh sixty-five pounds, wearing dresses that would be too small for starving Ethiopians. Let’s be honest, of the seven billion people in the world there are maybe sixty-seven women who aren’t models that can fit into the sizes of clothes models wear, and most of them are in third world concentration camps. The only solace a normal woman had was to be able to say, “At least I have boobs,” and then along comes Kate Upton! Is it any wonder women become paranoid about their appearance?
This is supposed to be a blog about writing so what does any of this have to do with writing…? No seriously, does anybody know…? Okay, let me take a stab at it. When you write a character what they look like on the outside is not nearly as important as what they look like on the inside, and what they look like to themselves. Beauty is not going to stay in a reader’s mind from a few sentences or even a paragraph description. The true beauty of a character comes from how people react to a character and how the character feels about him or herself. As the old saying goes, Beauty is only skin deep…but ugly goes clear to the bone or something like that. Take my wife for example. We were high school sweethearts, and we have been together forever. Both of us have aged over the years, but when I think of my wife I still think of her as that young school girl I met in high school. Sometimes the first impression is the only impression, no matter what the mirror says.
Just a quick note, in the four months my book County Ops: The Vengeance of Gable Fitzgerald has been out, I have sold more books than I have in the two years my first book In The Sticks has been out there. But I’m not getting any reviews. If you read the book and didn’t particularly like it, I’d appreciate a review. Any publicity is good publicity as long as they spell the name right.